| POLO IN SARAGUAY
Most seem to agree that the sport of polo began in ancient Persia. Proof of this can be found as early as 600 B.C. The game then spread over Asia, China, Japan and India. The game was introduced into England by a cavalry regiment returning from service in the east. The first match was played in England in 1871. Military men were the strongest supporters of the sport, as they had been in India and were the ones mainly responsible for the rapid spread of the game to North America.
The oldest polo club in Canada was the Calgary Polo Club, started in 1883. By 1909, Alberta could boast 14 strong teams. The Montreal Polo Club was first organized in 1899, General Frank Meighen was one of the original members and George A. Simard was its first president and during the summer of 1900, a field was prepared on his farm. They commenced practice in 1901. The Back River Club (Saraguay) was organized in 1905 by a group of Montrealers. The new clubs grounds were on Bois Franc Road in Saraguay.
The same year (1905), the Montreal Club moved its grounds from St Lambert (which became the St Lambert Golf and Country Club) to new grounds in Cartierville (Canadair plant). The Montreal Club disbanded in 1910 and several members joined the Back River Club and on Friday, September 3, 1920 became the Montreal Polo Club. The game was interrupted during WW1 as many players were in the reserves or active military men. In August 1919, the Back River Club resumed the sport. Hugh Paton (Ile Paton) was honorary president of the Montreal Polo Club and was a major landowner in the Saraguay area, with acreage that stretched from the Back River to the land occupied by Blue Bonnets.
Between WW1 and WW2, the Montreal Teams competed on a regular basis. Amongst those who competed were the Douglas McMaster, MacDougall and Ogilvie families. Polo was also interrupted during WW2.
After the Bois Franc polo grounds became the home of the Montreal Polo Club, they had to expand their facilities to accommodate the larger number of spectators. The original clubhouse became a changing room for the men after the games. When Montreal played host to visiting teams, the visitors were put up in the homes of the players and their friends. Such visits would result in a whirl of social events. The teams traveled by train.
All over North America the interest in polo waned in the years after WW2 and was not revitalized until the 1960s. Frank Choate of the Bank of America renewed polo in the Hudson area and with some neighbors formed the Lake of Two Mountains Polo Club. Polo was being played regularly in the Montreal area once more and in 1985 they adopted the name of the Montreal Polo Club.
Guy Billard (Oct. 2015) Source: The History of the Montreal Polo Club 1900-1940 by Iris Clendenning, copyright 1987. Special thanks to Antoine Bittar for contributing this book for references.